Tag Archives: Rick Burchell

Board announces appointments

The Kaneland School Board on Monday announced the appointments of Theodore “Chip” Hickman as principal of Kaneland High School, and Rick Burchell as director of the Fox Valley Career Center, effective July 1, 2011.

According to a District 302 press release, Hickman, an associate principal at Batavia the last seven years, was selected from a group of over 84 applicants. Burchell, a principal at the middle school level in Kaneland the last eight years, was selected from a group of over 40 applicants.

Putting names to the numbers

Kaneland sends dismissal notices to cut staff members
by Susan O’Neill
[quote]Kaneland—For the first time, individual teacher’s names are part of the record, with the reality hitting home for everyone involved. The Kaneland School Board on Monday approved resolutions authorizing the administration to provide notice of their dismissal of 118 teachers and professional staff.

“I don’t take much comfort in knowing that it’s happening everywhere,” board member Cheryl Krauspe said. “We signed the releases with the people’s names on it, and I feel bad for each and every one of them.”

Krauspe, a teacher of 35 years in another district, said what breaks her heart is that some of the talented teachers and other professionals the district has invested in and mentored will end up leaving the profession.

“They went into the profession because they were passionate about students, and we will lose that,” she said. “That’s the tragedy.”

An official letter was given to the teachers and other professional staff this week of the non-renewal of their contracts and their dismissal, hitting a note of finality for them, as well.

McDole computer and technology teacher Jeremy Berger, a fourth-year teacher who was informed that he would be part of the reduction in force, came to speak to the board at Monday’s meeting about the importance of the technology program at the elementary school level.

Berger is also the father of a Kaneland student. He may not know if he has a job at Kaneland next year until mid-summer.

He is just one of the teachers, social workers, counselors, psychologists and speech therapists whose lives have been put in limbo this week.

Of the 15 part-time, 24 first-, 37-second and 33-third year teachers, as well as nine of the 42 fourth-year teachers and professional staff who received the letter, approximately 40 to 50 will not come back to Kaneland next year. According to Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler, notifying this number of staff 45 days prior to the end of the school year was necessary to give the district the flexibility it needs to reorganize and restructure the district in response to a potential $2.2 million financial shortfall from the state.

Members of the School Board and administration went into an executive closed session to discuss the cuts and their impacts on programs, classes and class sizes, Board President Lisa Wiet said. Although there have been cuts in activities, clubs and competitive sports, the remaining reductions will necessarily come from letting people go, she said.

“Education is people; 80 percent of the cost of running a school district is in salaries and benefits,” she said.

The task for school administrators in the coming weeks will be to come up with recommendations that they will present to the board for discussion at its April 12 meeting. Wiet said they will take into consideration the input and feedback from the public, parents and members of the various advisory committees as they make these choices.

“We want to do what is absolutely the best for the education of the children,” Wiet said.

The impact on the children of the up to $5 million in cuts is not yet known. Class sizes will likely be larger; programs will likely be cut or reduced.

What is known is that the first round of cuts limits the opportunities for some students to participate in after-school activities and clubs.

Of the 11 clubs that will be eliminated at the high school level, members of the Chess Club have been the most vocal on the impact of its elimination. According to data the administration gathered, Chess Club members are the students least likely to participate in other activities.

“I’m not strong. I’m not fast,” chess player Zach Brown said. “The Chess Club is the only way I can represent Kaneland.”

Another member, Alex Siebert, said that the club links him with others at school in a social way, as well as helping him with the skills necessary to learn.

“Without chess, school would be boring,” he said. “It (also) gives me an opportunity to use my mind and to improve my critical thinking skills.”

While the competitive sports programs at the middle school level will be cut, Principal Rick Burchell has plans for an intramural sports program that he said will offer more activities to more students for about 25 percent of the cost.

Parents and other community members have already started to come forward to offer help and assistance with sports and some of the other affected programs.

The board will vote on the second round of cuts at its May 24 meeting.

Burchell proposes intramural activity plan

Although proposed budget cuts would eliminate competitive sports for the sixth- and seventh-graders, middle school principal Rick Burchell proposed a variety of intramural sports to replace the more expensive programs.

In a memo to Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler, Burchell said that, in addition to the existing clubs, music programs and activities such as the yearbook and student council, he foresees offering activities such as volleyball, tennis, flag football, cross-country, soccer, ultimate Frisbee/Frisbee golf, basketball, pickle ball, badminton, wrestling and track.

According to Burchell, these activities could be offered for approximately a quarter of the cost of the current program, while expanding after-school participation to include the sixth-graders.

In addition, running the programs immediately after school, from 2:40 4:10 p.m., would also free up the facilities for possible use by community groups and clubs, such as the Sugar Grove Park District, Kaneland Youth Football or Kaneland Cagers, in the evenings.

Investigation ongoing into KMS 8th grade basketball complaint

by Mike Slodki

            The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office is investigating a complaint filed against a Kaneland Middle School coach by the parents of a student-athlete following an incident at the school on Nov. 12.

            According to Det. Paul Warren of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department, the incident took place between a coach and a player during an eighth grade basketball practice.

            The names of all parties involved were withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

            The complaint stated that the coach pushed the student against a padded wall forcefully. The parents questioned their son about the incident before he told them about being pushed, according to the report.

            The parents later gave Det. Warren a copy of a typed statement by the student.

            According to Warren, the parents had already talked to Kaneland Middle School’s principal and assistant principal, Rick Burchell and Maureen Frawley, and gave them copies of the letter.

            Warren interviewed four students said to be with their teammate at the time of the incident. The detective asked the students to demonstrate on him how hard the victim had been pushed.

            One student gave a detailed description and demonstration of the incident  and said he was surprised by it. Another student said the coach placed his hands on the player because he was yelling at a teammate. The coach then gently pushed back using his hands and gave the team the look to be quiet, according to the student.

            Two more students said they did not see anyone get pushed, and one of those said he first heard of the incident through a text message.

            According to the report, an assistant coach was present but said he did not see an incident.

            On Nov. 14, Warren met with the mother and the player at the KHS gym to demonstrate the incident. The player said he and several other people were yelling about an open player. He said the coach pushed him against the wall and was told to “shut up.”

            Warren received a letter from the coach, who admitted to placing his hand on the player’s shoulder to remove him from the court when he was yelling at another player. The coach said he was trying to move the player from the court, and demonstrate to the player that his role was to coach and the player’s was to play.

            The coach told Warren that he wanted to cooperate completely and get back to coaching, and his gesture at practice was not meant to embarrass or cause injury to anyone.

            On Nov. 17, the detective received a letter signed by 18 of the 20 members of the team saying they wanted the coach to remain in a coaching position. After investigating, Warren referred the family that filed the complaint to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

            Kaneland assistant superintendent for human resources Jeff Schuler said the district cannot discuss anything personnel-related, but said the district was aware of the incident, investigated it and took the appropriate action. Burchell said he was not able to comment on matters of personnel.